The Art of Self-Defense

Director: Riley Stearns
Year Released: 2019
Rating: 1.5

A passive accountant (Jesse Eisenberg) gets mugged one night by a group of thugs on motorcycles, so he enrolls in a martial arts class run by a rather dodgy Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) who encourages him to 'unleash his inner alpha.'  I know that Stearns is very accomplished at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he's working from a place of real passion, but the movie comes across as a lame remix of the Rex Kwon Do scenes from Napoleon Dynamite (except not as funny) and a little bit of Fight Club (except not as subversive).  It's an attempt to satirize 'toxic masculinity' - referring to the lone adult female at the dojo, Anna (Imogen Poots), Sensei comments, "Her being a woman prevented her from becoming a man" - but doesn't have much to offer about it, except some guys are jerks and there isn't much you can do to change that (except shoot them in the head).